Reviewed by Mark Alyn
Beef is once again “What’s For Dinner.” American’s have a love-hate relationship with beef, loving the taste, hating the health warnings that go along with eating it. Celebrity chef steakhouses are popping up all over the country: Cut (Wolfgang Puck) and Craft (Tom Colicchio) are at the top of the list.
Cut (Las Vegas) is a wonderful dining experience. Service is highly rated; with servers and management making sure your meal is enjoyable. Craft (Las Vegas) offers poor service with an attitude and a forgettable meal.
Steak is a comfort food, especially surrounded by sauces, lobster mashed potatoes or a baked potato with all the sides. I don’t eat a lot of beef in general, but when dining out it’s hard to beat a great steak.
My favorite steakhouse is Mastro’s, featured on Entourage. Mastro’s is a boutique chain (I’m not a fan of chain restaurants) serving wonderful steaks and seafood.
Cocktails and wine are always part of a dining adventure for me. Mastro’s has a wide selection of vodkas, whiskeys and more, along with a sophisticated wine collection. I like deep bold reds, while my wife prefers lighter reds and whites. There is always a glass that we each like, so we don’t have to argue about a bottle. Prices are within normal restaurant prices for wine. I really don’t understand marking up wine several times retail, but it has become an industry standard.
Scampi must have some genetic string to it. My mother loved it, as do my siblings. It’s one of my favorites and Mastro’s does an outstanding dish. Something seemingly so simple, shrimp, garlic, butter is often very wrong. The shrimp can be tough and over cooked, the butter not real and so-called special touches of additional seasonings can make this classic not worth the calories.
The first time I had scampi at Mastro’s was at the Scottsdale Ocean Club. The flavor was reminiscent of dining with my parents. Tender, sweet shrimp in a marvelous garlic butter sauce. Simple, elegant with the classic taste I craved.
At Mastro’s in Thousand Oaks, the offering of an appetizer of Sautéed Shrimp is outstanding. Creamy butter blends with sautéed garlic in a classic dish. Perfectly cooked shrimp, tender and sweet are the main attraction. And while I knew it was not the thing to do, I dipped my sourdough bread in the mixture to get every last drop.
The Seared Ahi Tuna, Beef Carpaccio, and Ahi Tuna Tartare are also stand out starters.
With a steak, a tomato and onion salad works well. The acid of the vegetables are nicely cut by the fat of the beef.
The obvious star here are the steaks. One of my dining companions had a filet. While filets are tender, they lack flavor. Another had a bone in filet. I went for the bone-in ribeye.
To me, a ribeye is the king of steaks. I like Kansas City and New York Strips, I’m crazy about skirt steaks, but I really love a good ribeye. To be honest, a ribeye has a lot of fat. Okay, lots and lots of fat. But an aged prime ribeye is really hard to beat. So once in a while, I go for the gusto and get one.
Well marbled (more fat), tender and juicy, my ribeye was wonderful. Cooked the way I ordered it (rare) it’s a simple yet elegant meal fit for a king. It made a great lunch the next day as well.
Dessert was shared so we could taste, but not over indulge. A nice Chocolate Sin Cake, a Triple Chocolate Layer Cake, and Chocolate Gelato finished the meal. The caffeine did not keep me up.
With all the steak choices out there Mastro’s is at the top of my list. They do simple right.